In 1994, through the efforts of a small Bible class and tentmaker missionaries in Kyrgyzstan, just after the collapse of the Soviet Union, a Russian couple moved to Marietta, Ga. As these asylum-seeking internationals introduced their culture to the people of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, a wind of love began to blow among the members for those who had lost everything and travelled a great distance to find freedom and a new life in America. It was through this relationship that the first strands of Love’s Latitude began to form.
The Balkan war of the late 90’s brought the first wave of refugees into our sights. As we directed the resettlement of three families from Kosovo, we collected clothing, furniture and household goods, and rented an apartment for our first family. We waited one night in August at the Atlanta airport for a family of six -- father, mother and four little children -- who arrived with a small gym bag containing all of their possessions. Later that evening, we heard the story through a translator of how they had fled their home so quickly they didn’t wear shoes and crawled through mud in a rainstorm with their smallest children on their backs as bullets zinged just over their heads. The passion our Great God put into our hearts that night would only grow stronger with each refugee family that has arrived since that time.
With the realization in 2011 that an entire city of refugees, Clarkston, Ga, was located just on the opposite side of Atlanta metro from us, Jim and Jeanne Slaughenhoup began to search among the myriad apartment building in Clarkston to look for families that would be open to having a relationship. A United Nations city of refuge that welcomes 3,000 refugees each year from many people groups, we learned many things but most important that the vast majority don’t know the truth of the Gospel that sets them free and many have never heard about Jesus. Everywhere we looked and with most every family we met, we could see the white fields ready for the Harvest.
In 2016, after forming hundreds of relationships and sharing parts and sometimes the entire story of the death and resurrection of Jesus, Jim and Jeanne Slaughenhoup made the decision to formalize their many years of ministry. Love’s Latitude, Inc. was born as a non-profit serving the people located at latitude 33.8. Shortly after, 501c3 status was given by the IRS.
Today, moving forward in faith, we are eager to see the Lord move in the ways He leads. We follow Him as we work to fulfill the mission to which He has called us, focusing on those who have never had the opportunity to decide to follow Jesus. We go with great joy and confidence because we have been sent by our King.